Mourning Becomes Electra
Study Questions and Essay Topics
Discuss the role of the Chantyman in Act IV of "The Hunted."
Compare and contrast Orin and Lavinia's fantasies of the native. What is their relation to the play's fantasies of gender?
Consider the ways Ezra Mannon makes his presence felt in the absence of his person. How does he do so? What does he demand of those under his influence?
Suggested Essay Topics
Discuss the role of the Mannon house. Make sure to consider its primary metaphors—for example, the "whited sepulcher," and the incongruous mask.
What is the significance of the Blessed Islands? Compare and contrast the ways in which at least two different characters imagine them.
Discuss O'Neill's use of the double. How does O'Neill produce relationships of doubling. Consider, for example, costume, recurring motifs in dialogue, and correspondence between persons and things. What is the relationship between doubling and rivalry?
What is the significance of Seth's recurring sea chanty, "Shenandoah." Consider not only its lyrics, but also the logic of its apparition in the play.
Discuss O'Neill's use of the Civil War as backdrop for the trilogy. How does the war figure within the Mannon family drama?
What is the function of gossip in the trilogy? Discuss in particular the function of the various choruses of townsfolk.
Discuss the role of Fate in the trilogy. When does Fate appear to make itself felt? Why?
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